Is parent required to pay child support before being ordered by court to do so?

Q. Is parent required to pay child support before being ordered by court to do so? If so, how do we determined the amount?

Every parent should provide financially for his or her child.   Therefore, yes, a parent should support a child even if not ordered to do so by the Court.  In MA paternity cases, a parent may request child support from the other parent retroactively to the date of birth.  That means that even if a case was not filed for several years into the child’s life, the parent can request a support award and arrears stemming from the date of birth.  The award is in the court’s discretion (meaning it is up to the judge whether the retroactive support is awarded).  Therefore, if you do pay support, keep track of your contribution should the other parent seek that support to demonstrate that you have, in fact, contributed financially.   In MA and NH divorce, a parent can request support retroactive to the date that the complaint I served upon the other parent.  Again, this is in the court’s discretion and the award is not guaranteed.

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